Anatidae - Ducks, Geese and Swans

The 162 species of ducks, geese and swans are found throughout the world in all manner of wetland habitats from small ditches to rugged coasts (though they generally eschew the open ocean). They range in size from the small teals (weighing 250g-300g) to the swans, which may weigh 15kg or more. All species are aquatic, with webbed feet and a broad, flattened bill. Nearly all nest on, or beside the water, though a few, such as the Goldeneye nest in holes in trees. Ducks and geese produce large clutches of eggs (up to 10-15), though swans tend to lay fewer.

Swans are amongst the largest flying birds in the world with long necks and a wingspan of over six foot; most of the 7 species have an all-white plumage. The Mute Swan is found in parks and lakes throughout Britain, the other two species are winter visitors from their arctic breeding grounds.

Geese are intermediate in size between ducks and swans and most breed in the far north. The Greylag is the ancestor of all modern farmyard geese, though some wild birds do still breed in the northwest of Britain.

Ducks that occur in Europe can be split into three main groups: the dabbling ducks, such as the Teal, which up end feeding on weed and small insects on or just below the water's surface; the diving ducks, like the Tufted Duck which feed on the bottom for weed and small molluscs or insects, and so have feet set further back; and the seaducks, typified by the Eider, primarily marine species who dive for animal prey, with the mergansers actively pursuing fish and the like. The Mallard is the progenitor of the farmyard duck. Because of their colourful plumage, and ease of keeping, ducks are popular in bird collections and many escape each year - a further problem is that many species will mate with a bird of another species if the opportunity arises, creating confusing (but usually infertile) hybrids.

Regularly Occurring Species

Swans

Mute Swan
Bewick's Swan
Whooper Swan

Geese

Bean Goose
Pink-footed Goose
White-fronted Goose
Greylag Goose
Canada Goose
Barnacle Goose
Brent Goose
Egyptian Goose
Shelduck

Dabbling Ducks

Mandarin
Wigeon
Gadwall
Teal
Mallard
Pintail
Garganey
Shoveler
Ruddy Duck

Diving Ducks

Pochard
Tufted Duck
Scaup

Seaducks

Eider
Long-tailed Duck
Common Scoter
Velvet Scoter
Goldeneye
Smew
Red-breasted Merganser
Goosander

Occasional Visitors

Geese

Lesser White-fronted Goose
Snow Goose
Cackling Goose
Red-breasted Goose
Ruddy Shelduck

Dabbling Ducks

American Wigeon
Baikal Teal
Green-winged Teal
Black Duck
Blue-winged Teal

Diving Ducks

Red-crested Pochard
Canvasback
Redhead
Ring-necked Duck
Ferruginous Duck
Lesser Scaup

Seaducks

King Eider
Steller's Eider
Harlequin
Hooded Merganser
Black Scoter
Surf Scoter
Bufflehead
Barrow's Goldeneye



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